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Jan 13, 2021

All My Outerwear or "Do I Really Need to Sew Myself Another Coat?"

Friends, I found this wonderful double-faced Pendleton (or Pendleton-style) wool coating at It's A Material World (one of my favorite stores in the Garment District) last week, and I immediately thought I'd use it to make myself another peacoat using this vintage 1930's pattern I muslined a couple of years ago.

The fit was right and the style is perfect.  The question is: Do I really need to sew myself more outerwear this winter?  The answer is undoubtedly no -- I do not NEED another coat.  Which made me want to take an inventory of all my coats and jackets (not including blazers aka sports jackets) and you're invited to join in. 

So here goes: all my coats, from most-worn, to least-worn. This will be followed by jackets.

First up is this mountain parka I sewed from a vintage Daisy Kingdom pattern back in 2014.  It is without a doubt the coat I've used the most: I've worn it hundreds of time and laundered it quite a bit too.  It's wearing out and very faded, but I still love it and even considered sewing a new one this year, before deciding I'd squeeze another year out of it.  Such a versatile style, and, because it's lightweight, it's great for layering and for activities like hiking or biking around town.

When I sewed this faux fur coat for myself in 2017, I didn't think I'd wear it as much as I do.  It took a little getting used to as I'd never worn a fur coat before and I thought it was perhaps borderline "pimpy." But I wear it all the time, especially when the temperature hits the thirties or below.  It's incredibly warm (it's interlined with a layer of tightly woven nylon to make it windproof) and I can unzip it from the bottom so I can even bike in it.  Plus black goes with everything.

I can't believe I made this toggle coat in 2010--eleven years ago and with only one year of sewing under my belt.  I still love the way it looks but I actually don't wear it that much.  I find the toggles kind of fiddly and it's not quite as warm as it looks.  That said, I do wear it occasionally.  I made it from Vogue Sport pattern 8452.


I made this Donegal tweed wool peacoat in 2013.  I put a lot of work into tailoring it and it still looks great.  Honestly, I never wore it that much because I didn't think the color flattered me.  I also felt the original buttons didn't pop enough so I removed them and bought darker ones.  It also needs a new lining.

I have the new buttons and I have the lining fabric, I just have to ATTACH THEM.   So right now it just hangs.

I made this plaid raincoat in 2015 using Burda 7780.  I wear it occasionally but to this day I wish I'd made the pocket bags in a lighter-weight fabric instead of using the fashion fabric because I think they're too heavy and distort the hang of the coat.  I know I'm probably the only person who notices this but still.  I also think the plaid is very dull looking.  I just don't love it and, hence, it doesn't get worn that often.

You've never seen me in this peacoat.  I picked it up for $10 at the Chelsea Flea Market last fall because a) it fit; b) it was cheap; and c) I was cold.  I need to repair one of the pocket welts (a five minute job) and reinforce some of the buttons.  It's a great coat for layering because it's quite roomy.  It's lined with silk charmeuse and very nicely constructed.  I certainly didn't need it but there you go.

This coat is from Banana Republic though I bought it cheap on eBay.  It has a detachable fiberfill vest -- part of the same design line -- that I found at the Salvation Army (although the vest is gray).  I bought it in 2019 when I thought the light blue mountain parka was too worn-looking and I didn't have the energy to make another one.  It's boring but practical.  I haven't worn it at all this year.  I prefer to wear my own makes.

This is the wearable muslin version of the Donegal tweed peacoat.  It's made from coated cotton and is lined with cotton flannel.  It isn't very warm.  I like it because it resembles waxed cotton without the sticky feeling.  That said, I almost never wear it.  Did I mention that I made these two peacoats using a Japanese men's pattern book?

 Now let's move on to jackets.

I made this jacket in 2016.  It's wool and fully lined.  I wish I'd interlined it because it isn't that warm.  It's always been one of my favorite makes.  I made it using vintage Simplicity 1820, which is actually from the 1930s!

I love this mod Safari jacket I made last fall using a Folkwear Australian Bush Jacket pattern.  It's just cotton canvas so it's not warm but I expect to wear it a lot this spring.  


This poppy-print work jacket (also made from a Japanese pattern book) gets worn more than you'd think.  It's very cheerful and, since I lined it with soft brushed-cotton twill, it's pretty warm.  I made it in 2019.

This is an earlier version of the same jacket, made in 2016.  Ths one isn't lined.  I like it but I'm not sure the red is very flattering to me.  I wear it occasionally in spring and fall.

This lightweight cotton-linen blend jacket, which I made in 2014 using a vintage Seventies pattern (Butterick 4362), gets worn a ton and even my mom likes to wear it with the cuffs turned up.  I made it along with matching pants (later turned into shorts).  I never wore the two together as I did in the original modeling shots.

Another bold jacket I wear quite a bit -- it's a real conversation starter.  I used a vintage stars-and-stripes cotton canvas I found at the Chelsea Flea Market.  You may remember I also made a pair of jeans out of this fabric though I wear those less frequently (at my current pandemic-era weight, they don't fit).

I was all scheduled to film a second Bluprint class, this time on sewing jean jackets, but first Covid happened and then Bluprint shut down permanently.  Fortunately I made these two samples for the class in my size and the Bluprint people graciously returned them to me when it became clear the class wasn't going to happen.  I wear these from time to time but, as I have a lot of other jackets, they mostly hang.

This was one of my first makes from 2020, a vintage Eighties jacket with a Members Only vibe.  I ended up removing the shoulder pads as they just made the jacket feel too wide for me proportionally.  I've worn this jacket only a handful of times.  I find it slightly boring, frankly.

I made this bold, water-resistant anorak using a Green Pepper pattern.  It's fully lined and nicely constructed but I almost never wear it.  I don't care for outwear that I have to pull over my head rather than zip up the front.  Live and learn.  

What can I say about this little camo jacket?  I almost never wear it.  It's very lightweight, the fabric isn't that attractive to me, and the collar is too wide, giving it a dated look.  There's truly nothing wrong with it but it's the last thing I reach for.

I thought I'd include Cathy's vintage Fifties cotton sateen opera coat, which I made for her maternity photoshoot.  The outfit actually won a Vintage Pattern Contest on Pattern Review in 2012!  Details here.

There are a few outerwear pieces I've sewn that I no longer own, including my beautiful Issey Miyake leopard-print coat which I gave to a female friend, and a stretch velour jean jacket I tossed.  But as you can see, everything else I've made for myself over the last decade is still wearable.

In closing, friends, I think I have a very extensive wardrobe of outwear.  Perhaps I should postpone the Pendleton coat for next year at the earliest. Then again, these days, who knows what our lives are going to look like a year from now?  


Does this seem like an unusually large outerwear wardrobe or is yours even bigger -- or both?

Should I rationalize making another coat this year?  

(Would you?)

Happy sewing, everybody!

Whoops -- I forgot this silk-nylon taffeta Marc Jacobs daisy print jacket from 2013.  Weird fabric and rarely worn.


  1. man, i love the poppy- and stars & stripes-pattern jackets so much. it's funny, the ones you say you don't think the color flatters you were the ones that i think look especially good on you, haha.

  2. The winter coats are A-mazing. Kudos. Sew on! Keep posting.

  3. Make the new one! I don't think you have that many, because I believe I have more.
    I like the Donegal wool pea coat, but am not a fan of the color, either. However wool is VERY easily dyed, & anything you overdye it with, will still have that cool tweed look

  4. I'm happy to see that someone has more outerwear than I. You've made nearly all of them, and I've only made 3 of mine! The Pendleton wool is great! Go ahead . . . . make it up! And if you want to sell the flea market pea coat, let me know - I've been looking for a $10 pea coat for 10 years!

  5. Goodness no, you do not need another coat. I had a piece of lovely wool for a coat but decided to bind it in velvet and make a blanket. I love that blanket, far more than I would have a coat. A wide velvet binding means softness next to your face, not scratchy wool.

  6. I love coats and you absolutely don't have too many! They are all very unique and have very specific purposes - you're just prepared for all occasions. This has made me think I need to move some coat projects to the front of the line ... since we can't hang out inside anywhere coats are basically the entirety of the outfit.

  7. Peter,

    Thank you for acknowledging that even you have packed on a few pounds - though your open coats reveal that you are still in the neighborhood of slim/svelte/slender (I won't give you "willowy", though you've been there in a few of your photoshoots of yore).

    All of your efforts hit the mark, whether you wear them or not. Being able to share something you made, with Sonia, is so cool.

    If you do make another coat or jacket (or blazer from a bed sheet!), make it bold. I think we're due for a jolt of color, to signal a change in...EVERYTHING!

    Hugz to Freddie.

    A reader encouraging everyone to hunker down, keep a small social bubble, and wash your hands immediately when you walk in the door (this is the thick of it).

  8. Hi Peter,

    You don't have too many coats and jackets until you run out of places to hang them, but it sounds like you are almost ready to get rid of the coats and jackets that aren't fit for purpose (not warm, don't like the color, didn't make it myself...). Why not take the opportunity to replace the ones you don't like as much? You'd have the fun of sewing new ones, and when one is finished, you can sell/gift/donate the less satisfying one and on to the next!

  9. I thought I was "heavy" on outerwear, but you have me beat. You should definitely wear the $10 Chelsea flea market coat. It looks great on you. I wish I had one like it.

  10. Go ahead and make the coat. If you feel guilty(?) about having so many coats and jackets, or are simply out of room in the closet, move the ones you never or rarely wear on to new homes. Read this post if regrets start creeping in afterward.

    I don't have as many coats & jackets as you do. Of 4 coats and 8 jackets, I only wear 2-3 of them. Even before retirement and covid cut back my being out and about, I found myself reaching for the same ones all the time. Most probably should go - out of style, too small, or both. Some just aren't comfortable. Some haven't been out of the closet in years.

    1. I'd like to donate a few of my home-sewn coats but I'm not sure if thrift stores generally accept home-sewn items (or anything without a label). I've heard that they don't but maybe I'm wrong or I just need to sew a label inside.

    2. I think a content/washing instructions tag is what they really want. I pull them off of other things, and bought a big set of them years ago (company long gone). For me I don't bother, for others I do. Your home mades are so much better than the usual BeckyHomeEcky stuff, I think they'd sell. Roisin Muldoon's donated stuff gets bought. I saw one of my dresses last year, made my day!

    3. I wonder if it's totally dependent on who's running the thrift? I checked the 2 places I donate items and neither say anything about not accepting home-sewn or items with no labels. They only say don't donate garments that need repair, are stained or torn, etc. In other words - if you wouldn't give it to a friend, don't give it to us.

      I can't see anyone turning away things you've sewn based on quality! Some of *my* first garments, you bet they'd be rejected - wobbly seams, probably fraying seam allowances, etc.

    4. On rare occasions I do find homemade, but very well made, garments at thrift m stores. The tell tale signs are non-factory construction and lack of commercial care/content and logo tags. I would see no problem with donating well made clothing. The only problem I have with donation of handmade clothing is when something I made for someone else donated it to Goodwill. I wish she had offered to give it back to me, and I would have kept it for my personal archives.

  11. Out with the old and in with the new! Find a new home for the coats and jackets you don't wear and make the new one.

  12. Take the coats that are "boring fabric" and stencil them ... or applique something on them ... or dye them another color ... or hot-glue fake gemstones on them. You put so much work into them that it seems a shame to let them go.

    And you do NOT have too many jackets. I am the woman with too many coats for my climate. I see them on the racks at Goodwill, and feel a deeply maternal urge to rescue them from oblivion.

  13. Peter, Yes go for it. I agree the color may not be your best, but overdying has always worked for me. Give away to charity orgs, the ones you no longer want. When faced with a label in a coat, trust me Looks and warmth will win out Pegeth

  14. Peter, i think along the same lines as several of your commenters...give away the ones you don't love and make yourself a lovely new coat in that totally gorgeous fabric...It will make your heart sing and we will all get to see your amazing sewing skills. thanks for sharing your mad sewing skills..Abby from the island.

  15. I think that you should donate the ones that you don't wear. I am a social worker at heart but not by profession. There are so many out there who could use jackets and coats of good quality. I don't know about the necessity of labels. I am constantly donating my clothing to others as well as my husband's. I feel very fortunate that I am able to do so.

    1. I was going to say this too. :) Peter, I have less CLOTHES than you have outerwear! Costumes not counted. I have two racks of those ;-)

  16. Make the new one. Do a one for one swap, for each new one you sew, donate an unloved one for a new person to love. Try the Bowery Mission or Goodwill, anyone who picks it up from either of these places will actually wear it, rather than let it sit in a closet. ;-)

  17. I noticed you said that you hardly epwear some of the. Would you miss them if they magically disappeared?

    I have a problem getting rid of “perfectly good” or “nice” things especially if I made them. My husband has a grand take on it: imagine someone finding your donated coat and loving it daily. Makes it easier, thinking of rehoming them instead of getting rid of them.

  18. Not too much outerwear by any means (I write as a person with a far more extensive outwear collection even though I live in San Francisco where I can only wear some of it for maybe a month or two in winter when it's actually cold enough)

  19. Not too many coats. But I'd get rid of the ones you don't wear.

    Should you make another? Life's too short. Do what makes you happy.

    The pink opera coat is my all-time favourite MPB make. And good for concealing any corona-kilos Cathy might have acquired.


  20. Sounds like you don’t have a lot of warm coats, other than your gorgeous fur, so making the Pendleton makes sense.

  21. I'm just in awe that you can get everything to look sooooo good!
    The Stars and Stripes is a real keeper.
    -Will C.

  22. You have a lot of coats but you don't seem to wear many of them. Maybe divest (boomtish) yourself of a few and make the new one?

  23. You gave away my favorite! The Issey Miyake. I'll be the recipient treasures that gem.

  24. You don't need A coat, but you do need THIS coat. Go for it! The joy is in the making

  25. Make the wool coat/jacket; it could turn out to be the one you use the most!

  26. When Bluprint was re-re-born as Craftsy (again) they sent out a survey of members' needs and wants. I said I wanted upper-level sewing and knitting classes, rather than just "Begininng To" whatever. I NEED a class on jean-jacket sewing, so maybe don't cross that off your post-Covid list completely? Thanks much! And, yes, make another coat so we can watch. :)

  27. I say go for it. You may own a fair amount of coats and jackets, but many of them you do not wear (or hardly ever). Make something fabulous from that wool!


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